Obama Endorses In State Legislative Races

By John Celock

President Barack Obama has endorsed Democratic state legislative candidates in 19 states Wednesday as Democrats continue to shift their focus from the White House to the down ballot.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee announced Wednesday that Obama has issued the endorsements to individual candidates around the country as part of the party’s focus on state legislative races looking towards congressional redistricting in 2022. The races are largely in states the DLCC has targeted as part of a multi-year program to flip state legislative chambers to Democratic control.

Several of the state legislative chambers on the list are among the most competitive state legislative battlegrounds this year. Obama’s endorsements covered candidates for the Colorado House, Florida House and Senate, Georgia House, Iowa House, Idaho House, Illinois House, Maine Senate, Michigan House, Minnesota House, New Mexico Senate, Nevada Assembly, New York Senate, North Dakota House, Ohio Senate, Oregon House, Pennsylvania House, South Dakota House, Utah House, Washington House and Senate and Wisconsin House.

Many of the candidates endorsed by Obama have previously been placed on the DLCC’s list of targeted state legislative races this year. The DLCC list is aimed to increase financial support for individual state legislative candidates from donors around the country. The list also indicates candidates and states the DLCC – a Washington, D.C. based group – is providing assistance to. The DLCC’s GOP counterpart – the Republican State Leadership Committee – has unveiled a similar list.

Several of the endorsements were the only ones Obama issued in the state including North Dakota Rep. Joshua Boschee (D-Fargo), South Dakota House candidate Red Dawn Foster, Utah House Minority Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake City), Michigan House candidate Jewell Jones, Iowa House candidate Ras Smith and Maine Sen. Dave Mirament (D-Camden).

“Statehouse contests have drawn national attention as Democrats prepare to recapture chamber majorities and make major gains on November 8,” DLCC executive director Jessica Post said in a statement. “The president’s endorsements will help lay the groundwork not only for significant state legislative wins on Election Day; his support also furthers Democrats’ long-term efforts to secure key statehouse majorities over the next two cycles as we prepare for the next round of redistricting. Our nation’s forward progress depends on preventing Republicans from gerrymandering themselves into artificial majorities in the U.S. House and in state chambers for yet another decade. America deserves better.”

The DLCC has been pushing a plan to flip multiple state legislative chambers to Democratic control by 2022 in order to influence state and congressional redistricting that year. This has included a number of targeted states including Florida, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Obama’s endorsements – is a shift for Democrats, who have historically lagged behind Republicans in targeting state legislative races from a national level.

Other Democratic aligned groups – including EMILY’s List – have begun to shift a long-term focus to electing Democrats at the state and local level in recent years. EMILY’s List, which is dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women, has said the shift is to put more women into the political pipeline to eventually run for Congress, the U.S. Senate and governorships. At the same time, Republicans have increased their state and local push, including forming groups dedicated to electing more women and minorities to state and local offices and targeting state legislative races and races for down ballot statewide offices, including lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

Wednesday’s endorsements come as Democrats nationally have shifted the focus from the presidential contest to down ballot races, with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton encouraging voters to elect Democratic candidates to the U.S. Senate, governor and Congress. A Monday rally in New Hampshire featuring U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) saw Warren give as much focus to Gov. Maggie Hassen, the Granite State’s Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Colin Van Ostern, as she was giving to Clinton. The national shift comes as polls indicate Clinton leading in the Electoral College projections over Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Obama has rarely weighed in on candidates for state and local offices – outside of gubernatorial candidates – during his eight years in office. In 2009 he endorsed Democrat Bill Thompson in his unsuccessful bid to unseat then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and in 2013 he endorsed then Jersey City Mayor Jeremiah Healy (D) in his unsuccessful bid for reelection in a nonpartisan race against Democrat Steve Fulop. Fulop easily defeated Healy that year. In 2011, Obama did not formally endorse Democrat Rahm Emanuel, his former chief of staff, in his successful run for Chicago mayor, but did not object to Emanuel using video clips of Obama praising him in commercials. Emanuel’s 2011 bid was also staffed by several former Obama White House aides who then shifted to working on the president’s 2012 reelection campaign.

The full list of Obama endorsements:

Jeff Bridges, Colorado HD-03
· Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Colorado HD-30
· Janet Buckner, Colorado HD-40
· Mike Weissman, Colorado HD-36
· Tony Exum, Colorado HD-17
· Rachel Zenzinger, Colorado SD-19
· Jenise May, Colorado SD-25
· Daniel Kagan, Colorado SD-26
· Rod Smith, Florida SD-08
· Beth Tuura, Florida HD-47
· Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich, Florida HD-103
· Nick Duran, Florida HD-112
· Daisy Baez, Florida HD-114
· Robert Asencio, Florida HD-118
· Rena Frazier, Florida HD-59
· Lisa Montelione, Florida HD-63
· Ben Diamond, Florida HD-68
· Linda Stewart, Florida SD-13
· Bob Buesing, Florida SD-18
· Jose Javier Rodriguez, Florida SD-37
· Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Florida SD-39
· Donna McLeod, Georgia HD-105
· Bill McGowen, Georgia HD-138
· Floyd Griffin, Georgia HD-145
· Kenneth Zachary, Jr., Georgia HD-151
· Tommy Hill, Georgia HD-173
· Erick Allen, Georgia HD-40
· Kimberly Alexander, Georgia HD-66
· Taylor Bennett, Georgia HD-80
· Scott Holcomb, Georgia HD-81
· Pedro “Pete” Marin, Georgia HD-96
· Ras Smith, Iowa HD-62
· Ilana Rubel, Idaho HD-18A
· Mat Erpelding, Idaho HD-19A
· Melissa Wintrow, Idaho HD-19B
· Merry Marwig, Illinois HD-20
· Cynthia Borbas, Illinois HD-45
· Deb Conroy, Illinois HD-46
· Marty Moylan, Illinois HD-55
· Michelle Mussman, Illinois HD-56
· Dave Miramant, Maine SD-12
· Jewell Jones, Michigan HD-11
· Zach Dorholt, Minnesota HD-14B
· Duane Sauke, Minnesota HD-25B
· Paul Rosenthal, Minnesota HD-49B
· Mary T’Kach, Minnesota HD-52B
· Melissa Hortman, Minnesota HD-36B
· Jamie Becker-Finn, Minnesota HD-42B
· Andrew Carlson, Minnesota HD-50B
· Lindsay Port, Minnesota HD-56B
· Erin Maye Quade, Minnesota HD-57A
· Joshua Boschee, North Dakota HD-44
· Jeff Steinborn, New Mexico SD-36
· Bill Soules, New Mexico SD-37
· Steve Yeager, Nevada AD-09
· Ozzie Fumo, Nevada AD-21
· Justin Watkins, Nevada AD-35
· Sandra Jauregui, Nevada AD-41
· Jason Frierson, Nevada AD-08
· Daniele Monroe-Moreno, Nevada HD-01
· William McCurdy II, Nevada HD-06
· Chris Brooks, Nevada HD-10
· Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, Nevada HD-34
· Joyce Woodhouse, Nevada SD-05
· Nicole Cannizzaro, Nevada SD-06
· Chris Eachus, New York SD-39
· Todd Kaminsky, New York SD-09
· Jim Gaughran, New York SD-05
· Ryan Cronin, New York SD-06
· Adam Haber, New York SD-07
· Kris Keller, Ohio HD-24
· Cathy Johnson, Ohio SD-16
· Emily Hagan, Ohio SD-24
· Teresa Alonso Leon, Oregon HD-22
· Jennifer Williamson, Oregon HD-36
· Paul Southwick, Oregon HD-37
· Tawna Sanchez, Oregon HD-43
· Tina Kotek, Oregon HD-44
· Barbara Smith Warner, Oregon HD-45
· Janelle Bynum, Oregon HD-51
· Gena Goodman-Campbell, Oregon HD-54
· Linda Weaver, Pennsylvania HD-150
· Carolyn Comitta, Pennsylvania HD-156
· Barbarann Keffer, Pennsylvania HD-163
· Elaine Paul Schaefer, Pennsylvania HD-165
· Perry Warren, Pennsylvania HD-31
· Red Dawn Foster, South Dakota HD-27
· Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Utah HD-24
· Mike Pellicciotti, Washington HD-30A
· Kristine Reeves, Washington HD-30B
· Lisa Wellman, Washington SD-41
· Jeff Wright, Wisconsin HD-51
· Art Shrader, Wisconsin HD-50